Legislative Update from Representative Johnny Garrett

April 22, 2019

Happy Easter!

HE is Risen! Death could not hold HIM. Rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

WISHING YOU A BLESSED AND JOY FILLED EASTER!

Education Savings Accounts

Since the introduction of House Bill 939, my office has heard from a lot of you. I am so grateful to have constituents that are willing to reach out on any issue.

This bill passed through Curriculum, Testing and Innovation Subcommittee, Education Full Committee, Government Operations, Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee and Full Finance Committee before being heard in Calendar and Rules to be placed on a House Floor Calendar. Due to it passing through all of these committees of which I do not have a seat on, I have not been part of any vote thus far. However, I can assure you that this bill is being reviewed carefully by all committee members and discussions among our entire membership about this legislation continue.

My hope for this legislation as it continues to evolve is that all students will continue to receive a quality education that will help them realize their full potential. Far too many children in Tennessee only receive an education from an at-risk school and have no choice to receive an education elsewhere to maximize their learning potential. I do believe in giving parents the freedom to choose a school that fits their child’s unique learning style and one where they can excel in the classroom. House Bill 939 continues to change as it progresses through both chambers of the General Assembly.

The public school system is the backbone of any community and our children deserve the best education that we can provide. Our commitment to our students this year includes a total investment of $11.3 billion for the fiscal year 2019-2020. Approximately, $6.5 billion of that total would directly benefit K-12 education in our public schools. Because of our recent, strategic, Republican-led investments in education, Tennessee students are the fastest improving in the entire nation in math, reading, and science. Additionally, last year we achieved the best high school graduation rates ever – 89.1%.

When we invest in our students, teachers, and schools, Tennessee’s future looks bright, and I am committed to the success of these important groups.

 I recognize this is an important issue for all Tennesseans, and I will keep your thoughts in mind should I have the opportunity to vote on this legislation.

Sumner County Reagan Day Dinner

At this year’s Reagan Day Dinner put on by the Sumner County Republican Party, we were lucky to hear from not only Congressman John Rose but also Governor Bill Lee! It was an inspiring experience and a great update on what we have been working on this session both at the state and federal level. After giving us his keynote speech, Governor Lee joined us and stayed for dinner. Leader Lamberth did a terrific job as the master of ceremonies and Representative Weaver did wonderful as she led the room during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.  Congratulations to our Sumner County GOP Executive Committee, Chairman Jason Stewart, Vice Chairman Janna Garton, Vice-Treasurer Nick Ivey and Secretary Craig Garton.  Truly was a great night getting together with people from Sumner County, I think that it is safe to say that we have some of the best folks representing Sumner County.

Bills coming up next week

House Bill 394 will be heard in one of the Finance, Ways and Means “Behind the Budget” committee meetings this week.

House Bill 676 is scheduled to be on the House Floor for a vote this Monday night.

Passed 12 Bills, 2 More to go This Session!

This being my first legislative session, I decided to do all that I could so I filed 15/15 bills. Every member of the Tennessee House of Representatives is allowed to file 15 bills, I did and I am excited that I will hopefully be able to pass 14.

Governor Lee Signs Legislation Tossing Gym Tax

This week, the Governor signed legislation that tosses the amusement tax on small gyms.

House Bill 1138 eliminates the amusement tax on small gyms, fitness studios, and similar entities across Tennessee. It levels the playing field for these facilities so they can compete against their larger counterparts, which obtained an exemption from this burdensome regulation in 1986.

Currently, Tennessee ranks in the bottom five states for obesity and fitness. The overall goal of this initiative is to promote a healthier workforce, reduce obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and improve the overall quality of life for the citizens of this state.

Republican lawmakers remain committed to eliminating burdensome regulations on Tennessee’s small businesses, as well as improving the health and well-being for all of our citizens.

Republican Lawmakers Create Balance within Community Oversight Boards

This week, House Republicans strengthened House Bill 658 by adopting a recent Conference Committee amendment that gives community oversight boards subpoena power through their local legislative body.

As amended, the local legislative body must vote in support of a community oversight board’s subpoena request. Additionally, the subpoena may not be issued in the form of a blanket authorization; it must specify each document to be produced or witness to testify and cannot be issued for confidential documents.

House Bill 658 balances both the interests of our citizens to voice their opinion while also protecting the fundamental rights of officers and their families from malicious or politically focused persecution.

Community oversight boards have existed since the 1950s, and there are presently no guidelines outlined in Tennessee state law that defines how they are created, who can serve on them, and what their specific function is.

This important initiative provides much-needed structure to all current and future community oversight boards in Tennessee, which is critical to their overall success, as well as overall safety in Tennessee.